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Flood risk for truckers across Southwest

Periodic downpours may flood roads in many Southwestern cities rest of the week

(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Monsoonal thunderstorms will continue to soak parts of the Desert Southwest through the weekend. This will help chip away at the drought, but the rain could be too much at once in some spots on any given day.

Storms will be scattered Wednesday, becoming more widespread late this week and into the weekend as a more organized weather system impacts the region. Storms will be capable of producing locally heavy rain, strong winds and blowing dust.

Intense rain rates and prolonged rainfall, combined with saturated ground in many places, will be capable of producing flash flooding of washes, small streams and poor drainage areas. Flash flooding may also lead to river rises. Past and recent burn scars will be especially prone to flash flooding and debris flows.

The National Weather Service has issued flash flood watches for the Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona, metropolitan areas, as well as southwestern Colorado and northwestern New Mexico. The watches run from Thursday through Saturday, but the NWS may adjust this time frame if necessary.

Some of the latest forecast models show the potential for up to 5 inches of total rain through the weekend in some locations, but most or all of it could fall in just one day. Drivers should be prepared for possible ramp and road closures on Interstates 10 and 40, in addition to many U.S. routes such as Highway 550, known as The Million Dollar Highway.

Heavy rain could also hit parts of the South over the next few days, but flash flooding should be much more localized than in the Southwest. The majority of the worst downpours will probably remain along and south of Interstate 20.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

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Nick Austin

Nick is a meteorologist with 20 years of forecasting and broadcasting experience. He was nominated for a Midsouth Emmy for his coverage during a 2008 western Tennessee tornado outbreak. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from the Georgia Tech. Nick is a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in February 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” eight consecutive years.